Is This the 11th Hour for Thin Affiliate Sites

While some people realized affiliate marketing has has slowly been changing for some time now many others missed the memo, or are on are sailing a ship of blissful ignorance up a famous river in Africa. For those few people I hope the announcement of Google Knols last week serves as a wakeup call.

For people who are spammin’ and jammin’ and able to crank out autogen sites by the dozen before breakfast this doesn’t apply, but to the rest of you who only dip your big toe in the pool of darkness, the times they are changing and the window of opportunity is closing.

The sandbox/trustbox change signaled a shift in Google’s algo towards more established trustworthy sites. Unless you happen to be old enough to be a self referencing authority, MFA sites with minimal content (like About.com) aren’t going to cut the mustard anymore. IMHO Google tends to favor larger sites with good (easily crawlable) site architecture. Lots of good content provides lots of places to get deep links which is the profile Google seems to want to see.

Sites like Wikipedia have been the hallmark of this type of content for a very long time. New comers to the game include Seth Godin’s Squidoo, and more recently Jason Calacanis Mahalo. To be honest I’m not a big fan of the “search result” pages of Mahalo, but the “how to” sections have great content, and have been getting lots of attention and links, especially from the social sites and bloggers.

In the coming months smaller publishers are going to have more competition from more and more larger publishers. Instead of the default one Wikipedia listing to contend with, you’ll now have one Wikipedia, one knol, and maybe a squidoo or Mahalo listing as well. Unless you start building good linkable content that builds your link equity it’s going to become more and more difficult to rank.

Google is shaping the web in the image it desires. To the extent that this means there is more good quality content is a good thing. However to the point that Google has shifted from gate keeper of information to creative director of editorial content is a slippery slope, and isn’t a change you can afford to ignore.

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